Local Politics

Tuesday we have a primary election here for two city council seats. The field for each seat will be winnowed from three down to two. An outsider may think that, since this is Utah, the city council must be conservative-dominated (at least philosophically; the seats are non-partisan).

That is not the case. There are five seats on the council, three of which are up this year (one only has two people running, thus no primary). These three are currently held by big-government types that have been on an environmentalist kick lately. These three are all running for re-election. They voted to back out of a deal to purchase more coal power (we have a city-owned utility) in favor of unspecified alternative sources, they voted to spend $200,000 to build a new city building to some lame environmental standards, they voted to increase property tax collections by, coincidentally, $200,000, and they're currently looking at hiking electric rates (already 10-12% higher than those of the private utility consumers across the city line) to pay for a new "conservation coordinator" whose job will be to preach conservation. I, for one, am hoping all three are evicted from office.

However, the challengers in these races aren't appreciably different from the incumbents. Also, the race seems to be entirely run on resume and relationships, rather than issues. I guess this is what happens in smaller towns; those who know more people have the advantage, and many voters look at those who have previous local government experience.

Now, I concede that these are considerations in any election, from dogcatcher to president. But in this case, they seem to be the only considerations. Little discussion of the issues is made. This can be seen by perusing the letters to the editor of the local newspaper. The paper even mocked these letters in an editorial. The local radio show (the blog of which I contribute to) has done a good job of bringing issues to the forefront, but I don't know what kind of ratings the show gets, and how much difference this will make to the average voter.

We'll see what happens tomorrow, although the results aren't in much doubt, other than the exact vote totals. Maybe things will pick up prior to the general election. I do hope so.

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